Regina police are set to move their headquarters across the street to the former Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) bus depot.
The city announced Friday its offer to buy the depot, along with two parking lots, was approved by the Saskatchewan government. The total cost was $37 million — $16.25 million for the building and $21 million to re-purpose the inside.
Chief Evan Bray said the STC building will compliment the current headquarters on Osler Street.
“Being able to secure the building across the street for us really does allow us to remain in our home, right here, but have a brand new building, virtually brand new building, that we can retrofit to our needs,” he explained.
The depot was initially built for $26.2 million according to 2008 STC annual report.
Last month Bray told John Gormley the service has outgrown its current building and reiterated that on Friday, calling their current headquarters “squished”. At the same time, the service is also spread out, currently operating out of seven different buildings across the city.
“If we’re together in close proximity, we communicate better, we have better relationships, we share information better. It’s an important part of policing, policing is information sharing,” said Bray.
Both police and the city always considered the empty STC building as a possible location, but it appeared any solution would not be made immediately. The sale of the STC building closed at the beginning of October.
On Oct. 17, Mayor Michael Fougere indicated the STC discussion was simply theoretical and a decision was still a long way away.
“This is such an unexpected opportunity,” said City Manager Chris Holden.
He said they looked at the possibility of putting out a request for proposals, admitting that the city didn’t look at a lot of other properties. A few individuals approached the city with options, but Holden said nothing was concrete.
“This is the model that made the most sense for the city, it made the most financial sense and it made sense to meet the needs of the police service,” said Holden.
The city considered the purchase cost-effective based on what administration believed the price of building a new headquarters from scratch.
“The estimates for a brand new building were in the neighbourhood of $140 million. So with this opportunity we’re saving $100 million which is significant,” said councillor Joel Murray.
While the addition of the former STC depot will help create much of the space police need, it won’t get them all the way there said Bray. Both the chief and Holden said there is space available on their current headquarter site in case another building is needed in the future.
As well, the two headquarters may be connected somehow.
Before any of that is decided, city council still has to formally approve the new location at its meeting on Nov. 27.